4 Partner Exercises That Will Improve Your Pickleball Game


Pro player Callie Jo Smith and her husband Kyle, reveal the routine they rely on to get court-ready

Professional Pickleball Association player Callie Jo Smith may have won the gold medal with Catherine Parenteau in the 2021 U.S. Open women’s doubles event, but in life her most important partner is her husband, Kyle Smith. When not playing in tournaments, Callie and Kyle run Paddle Up, an academy in Northern Utah that offers a variety of pickleball coaching and drills for players at every level. What drives Callie—beyond the goal of becoming the No. 1 female player in the sport and caring for the couple’s two young children—is a “passion for helping others improve their pickleball game and seeing my students progress.”

courtesy @calliejosmith_pickleball

Here are some exercises from Callie and Kyle you can do with your partner, doubles teammate, or a friend. “Working out with a partner helps motivate me to achieve my own goals,” says Callie, adding that she and Kyle work out together every day.

 1. Ball Sit-ups

A. Partner 1 sits on the floor with feet on the ground and knees pointed upward. Partner 2 steps on top of Partner 1’s feet for stability, holding a ball of their choice (basketball, volleyball, soccer ball, or a soft rubber ball). Partner 1 takes the ball and holds it high while leaning back slowly toward the floor in a controlled movement until feeling tension at the core.

B. Partner 1 holds that position for five seconds and then returns to the original sitting position from the start of the exercise and hands the ball back to partner 2. Partner 1 repeats for a total of 10 times and then rotates with partner 2. Partner 2 does the exercise for 10 repetitions and then switches again with partner 1. Partners go until each has completed two sets of 10 repetitions.

2. Leg Lifts 

A. Partner 1 lies down on an exercise mat, legs straight out on the floor. Partner 2 stands behind partner 1’s head, feet aligned with the shoulders of Partner 1. Partner 1 holds onto the ankles of partner 2.

B. Partner 2 extends arms straight out, palms facing downward.Partner 1 lifts their legs so toes touch the palms of Partner 2, then returns their legs back to the floor in a controlled movement. Partner 1 then repeats the exercise until they have completed the movement 10 times. Partners repeat the exercise until each has done it twice.

Working out helps motivate me to achieve my own goals.”

—Callie Jo Smith

3. Russian Twists

Partner 1 sits up on the mat, knees slightly bent. Partner 2 stands between the legs of partner 1 and holds the ball. Partner 1 takes the ball from partner 2’s hands, touches it to the floor on their right side, and then brings it back up to partner 2’s hands. Partner 2 touches the ball, then partner 1 takes the ball to the left side, touches it to the ground, and then brings it back up to partner 2’s hands again. After 10 repetitions (each side touch being one), partners rotate until both have done the exercise twice.

4. Hand Taps

Partners 1 and 2 stand anywhere from arm’s length to six feet apart, side by side, facing opposite directions. Feet should be wide apart, with knees slightly bent in a semi-squat position. Both partners then rotate their arms, hips, core, and shoulders toward one another and tap hands. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement for a total of 10 times. Partners then both turn to face the opposite direction and repeat another 10 times. Repeat a second set of 10 on both sides.